What We’re Reading: 08/07/20

Immunology Is Where Intuition Goes to Die 

The immune system is an intricate, unbelievably complex part of the human body. It’s inherently so confusing that representations of data often lead to general misunderstandings of the concept of immunity. To an immunologist, immunity does not inherently mean you are protected from infection, it means your immune system has responded to a pathogen. 

And that is not even the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Donna Farber, immunologist and Division Chief of Surgical Sciences at Columbia, gets into all we know about the immune response to Covid-19, and how both the virus and immune system can wreak havoc on the body in severe cases. Your must-read article for the week. (From theatlantic.com)

How a Zoom forum is changing the way ICU doctors treat desperately ill Covid-19 patients 

ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), a machine that works like a temporary, artificial lung, has shown to be life-saving as a last-resort treatment for severely ill patients hospitalized with Covid-19. But there are drawbacks too, and doctors are editing the use of ECMO in real-time by sharing data from their hospitals in weekly Zoom meetings with a collaborative group of over 200 physicians from around the world.

The instant collaboration between institutions is almost as astounding as the swift collection and adaptations to the data on using ECMO itself. Not to be missed. (From statnews.com)

What Poetry Means for Doctors and Patients During a Pandemic 

Poetry has always played a role in medicine, but arguably never more so than right now. This interview with Rafael Campo, the poetry editor at JAMA about the surge in weekly poetry submissions from physicians across the country is both poignant and comforting. Before the pandemic he was fielding an average of 20 poems per week, now it’s hundreds. What he demonstrates so clearly are the ways writing poetry can empower us and strengthen empathy—physicians, and patients, alike. (From wired.com)

We couldn’t close this weekly roundup without sharing a poem recently published in JAMA. Enjoy! 


By Christopher H. Schifeling, MD

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